The Fretting Leprosy

Kid #4 is a varsity volleyball-playing high school senior, and taking all 6’ 5” of him into pediatrics after a long day at the office isn’t my idea of a good time.

It has been a long while since I’ve had a sick kid. Our family doctors retired a couple of years ago and a new Pharaoh rose up who knew not Joseph.

The fact is, I had better things to do, like go home and make bricks, and why the doctor standing there didn’t realize that is beyond me.

I don’t bring a kid in unless I actually think there’s a problem. Our old doctor knew that and respected my inquiry. The new guy tried to pat us on the head and send us out the door.

“We’re seeing a lot of this right now,” said Pharaoh, “A virus can present ‘nothing but a fever’ for up to ten days. Go home and rest.”

“He’s had nothing but a fever for five days. That is not normal. At least test him for the flu.”

He saw the look in my eyes and tested.

Of course it was negative. I knew the kid didn’t have the flu. I also knew the kid didn’t have a virus. I also knew the kid didn’t have anything on his whole body infected.

Not my first rodeo.

This is why they made doctors. Do your thing, mister.

But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and we went home to wait. And the kid got slowly slower and the fever came around like clockwork and he missed a week of school and I dragged him back into Pharaoh’s court on Friday.

“Test him for everything,” I demanded, “Our family has some pretty crazy medical history that we can’t ignore, even for a virus.”

They drew eight vials of blood, and we went home to wait some more.

And still the fevers came. They came in low and they roared up high and they snuck out the back door and pretended to leave, only to reappear with the dawn.

“The results are consistent with a virus,” said Pharaoh, “I’ve had two other doctors look them over. Your kid is fine. Get some rest.”

And still the fevers came. He missed another week of school.

We dragged the kid back in, Hubby and I both.

There wasn’t much to say.

“Hmm,” said Pharaoh, poking tentatively at the kid, “yes, this could be a sinus infection. That’s probably what’s going on. The virus gave him a secondary sinus infection.”

He scratched on some papyrus, patted us all on the head, and sent us away.

I had my doubts about it, but a course of antibiotics would work on more than a sinus, so I felt comfortable enough to leave the kids for a weekend and fly to Cancun with the Hubby for a get-away planned long ago. (That blog will be next.)

What I expected to see, upon reentering America, was a son well on his way to recovery.

What I found was a son looking very ill and puffy and strange…and still fretting with his fever.

I am patient and I am logical and I am a keen observer of my children. I gave it two days before deciding that Pharaoh was about to receive all ten plagues upon his pyramid, and I was going to begin with fire and brimstone.

Seeing that my cup of fury was about to runneth over, Hubby offered to take the kid back in.

There is nothing more exciting than to be sitting at your office desk and receive a text saying that your child reacted so poorly to a blood draw that every available doctor was summoned to his side immediately.

And they kept Hubby waiting anxiously outside, wondering if his kid was dead or alive.

Words fail me.

It was a very long day at my desk.

I dragged myself home and into the house.

The kid immediately appeared, saying, “Hey Mom, look at this.”

He lifted his shirt. Red spots everywhere.

I called Egypt. I informed them that we were marching in to war. We jostled between peasants and pestilence and elbowed up to the obelisk, surreptitiously googling petechiae.

The last of Pharaoh’s advisors accepted our challenge.

“Hmm,” he said, “Interesting. He’s had a lot of tests. But I don’t see mono on the list. I’m adding it to today’s blood draw. Might as well.” He turned to the kid, “Let’s have a look at you.”

The kid raised his shirt. The vizier stared at it for a minute.

Then he made the kid say “Aaaaahhhh”.

He swabbed a tonsil and disappeared for five minutes.

“Strep!” he declared, dancing back in, “A roaring case of it, too. I’ll write you up another antibiotic, obviously you’re allergic to the other one and it wasn’t working anyway.”

We went home with some hope in a paper bag. The kid swallowed his new pills and went to bed.

Yesterday was Friday. I kissed my sleeping boy in the dawn and went to work.

Hubby and the kid returned to Pharaoh’s court, who declared that, although his advisor may have diagnosed him, last night’s prescription was not at all correct.

He handed them a third bag of pills, patted them both on the head, and sent them away.

When I finally made it home again, there was a message on my phone from Pharaoh’s office.

“You need to call us right away, there are new lab results that you need to have right now. Please call this number back!”

And I sat down. And the kid wandered over.

And we called the number, he and I.

Three weeks into this, he doesn’t have just strep, he has strep that went into scarlet fever. We glanced at the rash covering his body with bright crimson hieroglyphics. He doesn’t just have a fever, he has a raging case of mono. I looked into his eyes as the nurse went on and on with the edict, and we felt the next days and weeks pour out between our fingers like sand.

Volleyball is over. Easter is cancelled. There are AP tests, and a youth conference and a family reunion and prom on the calendar.

We have no idea what will be, but at least we have named this fretting leprosy, and so it will lose it’s power.

And we will conquer it.

Will the real doctor please step forward?

Tummy Troubles

Very rarely does my family get ill. It could be because we eat well, sleep deep and play hard. It could be from the fact that we don’t sit still long enough for the germs to catch us.

But most likely it stems from the wee years of preschool and kindergarten where all the kidlets are Petri dishes of experimental bodily fluids.

There are a strict number of times when you must accept the germs passed to you there, and you are honor bound to bring them home and share with your loved ones.

Preferably by projectile vomiting at their feet.

After enough years go by, your immunity is like body armor. The germs can only reach you through your armpits and that’s where most of them die.

Children can go to sleep with their little halos in place and then sit up at 2am, looking puzzled, and launch missiles across the bedroom, sometimes taking in an amazing amount of collateral damage.

If one kid was sick, everyone else’s bedrooms went into lockdown for a week, with air defense shields firmly in place.

You only want to clean that mess once. Maybe never. Maybe you just wrap everything up in the bed sheets and place it, dripping, into the nearest neighborhood dumpster.

(Sorry homeless dude.)

I became extremely good at noticing signs of imminent launching from my children.

I mean, I was pro.

Not because it was another “fun mommy challenge” but because before taking this seriously, I had a child fill a tent (not a sleeping bag; a tent) with semi-digested fishy crackers in the middle of the night in the middle of a camping trip in the middle of the woods.

Sometimes you just have to walk away from your mistakes.

We gently zipped the tent door shut to keep fumes from destroying surrounding wildlife, and slept in the car.

Fast forward to the time we were camping at the beach in our tent trailer. It was late at night, everyone dreaming to the peaceful sounds of the ocean. The Red Alert System went off in my head and I woke up, immediately sending out sonar pings, seeking the danger.

One small child sighed gently in his sleep.

Without skipping a beat and still in my jammies, I scooped up the suspect and swiftly carried him outside.

Face out. The shrubbery was glad to get the fertilizer.

The time we were all eating in the cafeteria and I saw a faintly furrowed brow on my little princess? One minute Hubby was talking to me, and the very next I had snatched her up (face OUT people) and dashed her outside to the nearest trashcan.

It’s very convenient when those don’t have lids. Just sayin.

It’s easier when you’re home of course.

I have to share an idea from that came along much too late for me, but could be helpful for you.

She suggests packing a new beach bucket with: a plastic beach shovel, a small inflatable air mattress (like for the pool), two beach towels, small colorful cups and straws, dry crackers, anti-nausea medication, and doctor/pharmacy info.

Set up the air mattress with towels as sheets. Use the bucket to catch the mess as an alternative to touching a toilet. Use the shovel to scoop up misses. Use the fun cups as incentives to stay hydrated until the bug passes. These items can be rinsed and tossed into a dishwasher or laundry. Or are so cheap, you should have no qualms about tossing them into that dumpster we discussed earlier.

Once the child is settled you can focus on cleaning up the mess…because you never ever want to leave this till daylight. Am I right?

I’m so sorry for your interrupted sleep. I know you’ll have black circles and bags under your eyes tomorrow.

But look at your child.

I don’t know about yours, but mine felt so much better after they were sick that they enjoyed all the fuss and watching me clean up behind them.

They wondered aloud who was going to barf next and placed bets on when.

One even looked sweetly into my sleep-deprived face and asked what was for breakfast.

That one was my Hubby.